Daily Archives: May 13, 2011

Quelle surprise!

Malloy caves. No layoffs, no wage cuts (no raises for 2 years, then 9% increase) and a claimed saving of $1.6 billion instead of $2. I suppose the missing $400 million will be made up from additional taxes on the rich (did you see that he’s taxing Greenwich Hospital so that it will go from an operation that had a $1 million surplus last year to one which will be $4 – $5 million in the red next?).

And do you really believe that we’ll ever see any large percentage of that supposed $1.6 billion? I don’t either. For that matter, neither does the state employees union, which professes itself to be delighted with the results of its showdown with Mean Dannel Malloy.

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That was quick

After just 11 days on the market, 1 Willowmere Circle is under contract. The house, which is pretty dated and may well end up in a dumpster (that’s what I’d probably do to it anyway) sits atop a hill at the entrance to Willowmere Circle on 1.34 acres in an R-20 zone. There’s plenty of room to add another house, unfortunately. Asking price, which is probably just about what the seller will be getting, is $5.695 million.

I’m hoping that the buyer is interesting in just one house on this lot, either renovating the original or building anew. I fear, however, that a builder has snapped this up and, just as the Kali-Nagy character couldn’t figure out the value of one beautiful house on the lot around the corner and so split it into two, a builder here will almost certainly eschew such a long-sighted approach and cram two houses where before there was one.

I hope not, but having seen what’s happened to our town over the past six decades, there really is no rational basis for that hope.

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A message to the Burt Hoffmans of the legal world

Connecticut regulators are pretty pissed off at you.

I can’t paste the letter here (it’s a pdf) but read it at the link, then reflect that Mr. Hoffman was brazen enough to issue HUD - 1 forms detailing exactly the behavior proscribed by federal and Connecticut law. Tch tch.

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P & Z matters

I don’t ordinarily pay much attention to what’s said by Doug Stevens, currently the president of our Greenwich Association of Realtors. But he’s spot on in the following – in fact, I’ve been warning my buyers (and readers) of this mess for some time.

Dear Colleagues,
 
Please take note of the following hypothetical (but entirely realistic) scenario which could occur when taking your next listing;
 
Suppose you have a property for sale and a potential purchaser willing to pay asking price. The only contingency is the ability to ad a 23’X23’ bluestone terrace off of the family room. There are no wetlands and all required setbacks are met. Now imagine discovering that it may take 3 months and cost thousands in surveying and engineering to find out if it will even be allowed by P&Z. The application process may include submission of these expensive requirements:
 
Remove “as Built” design of terrace Topographic survey extending 100’ onto your neighbors properties Calculation of all impervious surfaces Soil typology and absorption capacity analysis Storm water runoff design for entire property Mitigation measures  for low impact development
Further, if the application is approved, P and Z could require that the following property changes/additions are completed at the homeowner’s expense:
 
ALL ROOF [GUTTER} DOWNSPOUTS DISCONNECTED FROM DRAINAGE SYSTEMS
Disconnection of existing sump pump
CONSTRUCTION OF A RAIN GARDEN TO RECEIVE STORM WATER
INSTALLATION OF A RAIN BARREL
PLANTING [AN UNDEFINED NUMBER OF} NEW TREES 
PLACING EXISTING TREES IN A CONSERVATION EASEMENT
Provide a CERtified “as built” survey SHOWING PROPOSED TERRACE
 
Currently this home improvement requires a simple permit and may be built “By Right”. This will no longer be the case when the new Town of Greenwich Drainage Manual is approved and oversight/enforcement is turned over to P&Z to administer. Add to this P&Z’s proposed grade plane and lot coverage restrictions and the results are changes that create higher costs, long delays and an overall loss of property value to town residents.
 
As I see it, there is a very good chance that the seller and/or purchaser will be reluctant to wait in limbo until the matter is concluded. The seller loses a full price offer; the purchaser loses their dream home; and you lose a sale.  The same impossible red tape and additional expense will apply to your listing should the purchaser wish to add a small, paved parking area, storage shed, pool or minor addition. This is unfair to your Buyer Clients, Seller Clients and to You.
 

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Never heard of him

Herb Kohl is retiring from the Senate. He’s a rich department store heir so, naturally, he’s a Democrat. Turns out, he’s been representing Wisconsin for a long time, all without appearing on my radar. I had to look him up in Wikipedia to even discover where he was from. But he’s been against free trade and toed the line with more powerful Democrats, so good riddance. The battle in 2012, as I see it, is for the Senate. If the Democrats can be ousted from there then they’ll get kicked out of all their committee chairmanships and they’ll be about as relevant as Nancy Pelosi, if you remember her.

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A contract

So far (1:00 pm) not much being reported on the MLS hot sheet, but 20 Desiree, a ranch last renovated in 2000, is under contract. Last asking price, $1.995. It started a year ago at $2.695, assessment (2005? 2010? Can’t tell) is $1.865. Two acres, five bedrooms and a pool.

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Alright, the real estate market sucks – so what? I have other ventures

Walt, they pay me good money for this! We can always use an experienced disciplinarian like yourself.

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Oh, go soak your head

The current editor of the Greenwich Post is off her meds. She’s penned two editorials this week, one mentioning the “desperately needed” $30 million music room at the high school, the other describing the town Housing Authority as ‘an agency in desperate need of reform”. Well – that music room with its flawed acoustics has served students for forty years and somehow produced a steady stream of successful musicians. The low – income housing the editor is so happy about comes with a fun, often overlooked caveat: under state law, it can go up anywhere, and we are powerless to dictate location. There are going to be some interesting battles in the near future, and we will lose every one of them.

“Desperate” might be applied to a patient seeking a heart transplant, or my own need for a new Porsche; a snazzy auditorium or Sam Romeo joining the Housing Authority? Give me a break.

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Executed contract

Nine Bayberry (off of Cherry Lane, off of Round Hill Rd) is under contract after just 45 days. 8.4 acres and renovated in 2007, looks pretty good. Price per acre isn’t bad either.

UPDATE: Oops! Forgot to give the asking price, which was $5.750 million.

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Well, maybe

19 Harkim

This Baliwick house, last renovated in 2001, has been kicking around since 2009 when it asked $2.045, dropping to $1.895 by May, 2010. It’s back today as a new listing at $1.799,500. There was a time, pre-crash, when a decent house in Baliwick could fetch that much and perhaps that time has returned. Westchester folks seem to like the area because its close to their old friends across the border and the tax burden is far less – I’d estimate 2010 taxes on this one will be less than $11,000.

 
One tip to the listing broker: Baliwick is off of Riversville Road, well north of the village of Glenville. It is not, as the listing claims, “south of the Post Road’  so anyone looking for a house in the Harkim Rd. area may miss this one. Just saying.

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Overpricing will kill you

47 N. Stanwich

Withdrawn from the market today, last asking price $2.850. This four – bedroom house was very nice but North Stanwich is way up there, near Conyers Farm, and the market thins out the farther up you go from the Merritt. These owners originally priced the house at $3.925 in 2005 and couldn’t sell it during the next two years, even though they dropped its price to $2.985 during that period.

 
In 2008 they added on, increasing the size from 3,258 sq. ft. to 4,694 and renovated. The house was returned to the market in February, 2010 asking $3.450 and once again didn’t sell, even as the price dropped, eventually to $2.850. You can’t know for certain, but I believe that asking so much back in 2005 doomed this house because it prevented a sale and now, even with two years off the market, it’s kind of a six-year-old listing. Remember the late Hunter Thompson’s description of Muskie after the old pol blew up his campaign in New Hampshire? “He looked like a farmer with terminal cancer, trying to borrow money on next year’s crop”. Something like that.

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Convenient to sewer, transportation

255 Shore Rd

255 Shore Road, flanked by the Grass Island plant and I-95, has gone to contract. Last asking price, $1.695. 2009 ask, $2.250.

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When you can no longer work on Wall Street, look elsewhere

Coming soon to Conyers Farm?

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